Neymar scored a hat-trick to become the second-highest scorer in Brazil’s history as the Copa America champions won 4-2 away to 10-man Peru in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
The goals took Neymar to 64 international strikes, two more than Ronaldo but still well behind Pele’s record of 77.
Elsewhere, Joaquin Correa scored the winner 11 minutes from time as Argentina labored to a 2-1 victory over Bolivia to maintain their 100% record after two matches.
Peru twice took the lead through Andre Carrillo and a heavily deflected strike from Renato Tapia, but two controversial Neymar penalties, an injury time third, and a close-range strike from Richarlison maintained the Selecao’s winning start to qualifying for Qatar 2022.
Carrillo opened the scoring on six minutes with a dipping volley from 20 yards after latching onto Marquinhos’s weak clearance.
Peru Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese then denied Firmino from point-blank range after he seemed certain to tap home from Richarlison’s cushioned header.
Brazil dominated the ball but Peru’s pacey forwards looked dangerous on the counter-attack and visiting goalkeeper Weverton had to be alert to keep out a shot from Christofer Gonzales.
But Neymar sent Gallese the wrong way from the spot after Yoshimar Yotun was penalised for tugging his shirt in the box.
Out of nowhere, Tapia’s speculative long-range strike took a wicked deflection off Rodrigo Caio and wrong-footed Weverton on 59 minutes.
The lead lasted only a few minutes before Richarlison touched a Firmino header from a corner over the line to restore parity.
The winner came seven minutes from time as Carlos Zambrano was harshly adjudged to have fouled Neymar.
Worse was still to come for Zambrano as he was sent off minutes later for a stray elbow that caught Richarlison and Neymar drilled home the final nail in Peru’s coffin after Gallese spilled a shot from Everton Ribeiro.
Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina earned a second narrow victory in a row following Thursday’s 1-0 win over Ecuador.
Marcelo Moreno Martins had given hosts Bolivia a deserved lead but Argentina scored a fortuitous equaliser through Lautaro Martinez.
Bolivia should have been ahead on six minutes when Argentina goalkeeper Franco Armani was caught off his line but Moreno Martins sent his header from an angle onto the roof of the net.
Moreno Martins made amends on 24 minutes as he rose between Argentina’s center-backs to power home a header from eight yards after Alejandro Chumacero was allowed to run from halfway into the visitors’ box before crossing from the left.
Argentina’s equaliser came in comical fashion as Jose Carrasco tried to clear the ball out of his six yard box after cutting out Martinez’s cross, but he shanked the ball off the forward’s shin and past goalkeeper Carlos Lampe.
Lionel Messi, who had an otherwise quiet game, and Martinez then combined to tee up Correa to thrash home the winner.
Ecuador work of art
Ecuador totally dominated Uruguay in a 4-2 victory in Quito.
They took the lead on 15 minutes as Moises Caicedo flicked home a header from an Angel Mena cross.
Both sides had a goal ruled out following a VAR review before Michael Estrada doubled the advantage on the stroke of half-time, rifling home from inside the box after a mistake by veteran Uruguay center-back Diego Godin.
Uruguay were denied again by VAR before Ecuador went straight up the other end where Estrada cracked home Valencia’s backheel from 20 yards.
Ecuador’s final goal was a work of art as Alan Franco’s reverse pass bemused Uruguay’s defence and Gonzalo Plata rolled his foot over the ball to commit both sliding defender Ronald Araujo and goalkeeper Martin Campana before stroking the ball into the far corner.
Luis Suarez scored his record-extending 61st and 62nd goals for Uruguay with a pair of late penalties that were no more than a consolation.
Radamel Falcao scored an injury time equaliser as Colombia salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw in Chile.
Jefferson Lerma gave Colombia an early lead but Chile turned the match in Quito around by half-time with strikes from Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez.
Gaston Gimenez scored a late winner before goalkeeper Anthony Silva saved a penalty from Yangel Herrera as Paraguay won 1-0 in Venezuela.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has tested positive for COVID-19, left the Portuguese team camp near Lisbon on Wednesday to fly back to Northern Italy on his private jet, local media reported.
The Juventus player’s jet took off in the afternoon from the Tires airfield, in the outskirts of Lisbon, according to images broadcast by CMTV.
The Portuguese Football Federation announced on Tuesday that Ronaldo tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, the day after Portugal drew 0-0 with France in Paris and would not be in the squad for Wednesday’s UEFA Nations League match against Sweden in Lisbon.
The 35-year-old five-time Ballon d’Or winner was “asymptomatic” and had been placed in isolation after the positive test at the national team’s training centre in Oeiras, a suburb of Lisbon.
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini said on Tuesday that he had spoken to Ronaldo.
“He’s fine and was sunbathing, he’ll be back when he’s ready,” Chiellini said
Last week, before the trip to France, two other Portuguese players tested positive, Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Lille defender Jose Fonte.
Ronaldo is the latest star footballer to test positive for coronavirus following Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Paris Saint-German’s Neymar and Marseille’s Alvaro Gonzalez have avoided punishment after allegedly making racist and homophobic remarks in the meeting between the sides earlier this month, the French league (LFP) announced on Wednesday.
The world’s most expensive player was accused of making the remarks towards Marseille’s Japan right-back Hiroki Sakai and Gonzalez.
The Brazil attacker claimed the Spanish centre-back had called him a “monkey”.
“The disciplinary commission states that it does not have sufficient proof to allow it to establish the substance of the facts concerning discriminatory language,” the LFP said.
Marseille’s victory at Parc des Princes on September 13 was marred by an injury-time scuffle which saw five players red-carded.
Neymar was sent off for slapping Gonzalez on the back of the head and was given a two-match ban for the incident.
Last week, PSG’s Angel Di Maria received a four-match ban for spitting during the fixture.
Neymar’s punishment for being one of five players sent off following a brawl at the end of Paris Saint-Germain’s defeat to Marseille will be revealed on Wednesday, the French Football League (LFP) said Monday.
The world’s most expensive footballer was shown the red card in stoppage time of the 1-0 loss at the Parc des Princes alongside teammates Layvin Kurzawa and Leandro Paredes, as well as Marseille’s Dario Benedetto and Jordan Amavi.
Neymar insisted Alvaro Gonzalez called him a “monkey” in a series of furious tweets late on Sunday after he was dismissed for slapping the Marseille defender on the back of the head.
“Look at the racism. That’s why I hit him,” Neymar, who was returning from coronavirus quarantine, said as he left the pitch. Gonzalez later denied making a racist comment.
“The only regret I have is not hitting this idiot in the face,” Neymar then posted after the game, before replying to a Gonzalez tweet to call him a “racist”.
The LFP’s disciplinary commission, which will decide the punishments, could investigate the Brazilian’s accusations against Gonzalez, who Marseille claim was spat on by Angel Di Maria.
Any racist behaviour carries a maximum suspension of 10 matches.
Spitting directed at another player can lead to a ban of up to six matches.
Kurzawa meanwhile could be suspended for up to seven matches for violent conduct after aiming a punch at opposition full-back Amavi.
Marseille secured a first win over Paris Saint-Germain in 21 matches as the Ligue 1 champions lost 1-0 on Sunday and had Neymar sent off on his return from serving a Covid-19 quarantine.
Florian Thauvin scored the only goal on 31 minutes at the Parc des Princes as Marseille earned a first victory over their bitter rivals since November 2011 in a game which ended with five red cards in injury time.
PSG, who lost the Champions League final to Bayern Munich last month, have now lost their opening two games of a season without scoring for the first time since 1978/79 and the task for Thomas Tuchel’s coronavirus-afflicted side does not get any easier this month.
A frenzied schedule awaits, starting with the visit of Metz in midweek and a trip to Nice next Sunday, and Neymar now faces a suspension for a slap on Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez in an injury-time scuffle that resulted in five red cards.
The Brazilian appeared to accuse his opponent of racism as he followed Layvin Kurzawa and Leandro Paredes down the tunnel after he was sent off following a VAR review.
Argentine striker Dario Benedetto and left-back Jordan Amavi were shown red cards for the visitors.
Marseille are attempting to close the gap on PSG after coming a distant second last season and find themselves with an early six-point advantage over a club that has won the title seven of the past eight years.
After fielding a depleted line-up at Lens on Thursday, Tuchel was able to recall Neymar and Angel Di Maria for a match played in front of around 4,000 supporters in Paris.
However, Kylian Mbappe remained absent after testing positive for Covid-19 on France duty at the start of the week with Mauro Icardi and Marquinhos also still missing.
PSG handed a debut to Italy international Alessandro Florenzi following his arrival on a season-long loan from Roma while Sergio Rico started in goal after rejoining on a long-term deal.
Marseille ‘keeper Steve Mandanda produced a magnificent reflex to keep out an effort from Marco Verratti just a minute in as tempers bubbled over frequently in the capital.
Thauvin, who shone in Marseille’s opening 3-2 win at Brest before the international break, made the breakthrough when he turned in a Dimitri Payet free-kick from point-blank range.
Di Maria found the net for PSG just past the hour but had strayed clearly behind the last defender, and Marseille’s celebrations were cut short in similar fashion moments later when a Benedetto goal was ruled offside.
The Argentine rifled in a rebound after Rico parried from Thauvin, who was controversially adjudged to be in an offside position much to the frustration of Marseille.
PSG’s last goal came in the 3-0 win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League semi-final on August 18, and Neymar poked wide from a Pablo Sarabia cross before the contest turned ugly at the finish.
Neymar has sealed an endorsement deal with Puma, the German company announced on Saturday, two weeks after the Brazilian superstar left his long-time sponsor Nike.
“Welcome to the fam @neymarjr #KingIsBack” Puma tweeted alongside a photo of the Paris Saint-Germain striker, kitted out in the sportswear giant’s clothes.
The world’s most expensive player confirmed his new role as Puma’s poster boy in an open letter posted on social media.
“I grew up watching videos of great football legends such as Pele, Cruyff, Eusebio and Maradona….who each played in Puma.
“For these reasons, from today onward, I have the honour to unite with the brand that helped the biggest legends of football become what they are,” he wrote.
Neither Neymar nor Puma gave details of the length of the contract or how much it was worth.
Speculation has been flying that the 28-year-old would sign with Puma since his endorsement deal ended with Nike, the company that had sponsored him since he was a 13-year-old prodigy.
News that a deal had been struck was first published by Brazilian sports site Esporte Interativo, which is known for breaking the story of Neymar’s transfer from Barcelona to PSG in 2017.
Citing “exclusive information,” it said details on the agreement and Neymar’s first promotional appearances for Puma were expected “in the coming days.”
Neymar had appeared to drop hints that a deal was close, said Esporte Interativo.
He recently followed Puma, PumaFootball and eight other accounts associated with the brand on Instagram, and posted a picture of himself Thursday with what appeared to be a statue of a puma in the background.
Neymar’s last arrangement with Nike was reportedly an 11-year contract worth a total $105 million.
Forbes magazine, which ranks him the world’s seventh highest-paid celebrity, estimates his earnings for this year at $95.5 million, including endorsement deals.
PSG paid a record 222 million euros for his transfer from Barcelona in 2017.
With his skinny good looks, tattoos, ever-changing hairstyles and huge following on social media, Neymar is one of the biggest names in sports and beyond — though his brand has been tarnished at times.
On the pitch, critics accuse him of diving in matches. Off the pitch, he has faced accusations of tax fraud and a 2019 rape allegation.
Brazilian police later dismissed the latter case, citing a lack of evidence.
He was forced to miss PSG’s Ligue 1 season-opener on Thursday after testing positive for Covid-19 following a holiday in Ibiza after PSG’s Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich.
Brazilian superstar Neymar insisted that Paris Saint-Germain always believed they could come back from the brink to defeat Atalanta with two goals in the dying moments of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.
“I never thought of going home. From start to finish, from the warm-up, we only thought of qualifying for the semi-finals,” the world’s most expensive footballer told RMC Sport.
Substitute Eric Choupo-Moting’s goal three minutes into added time allowed PSG to beat the Italian outsiders 2-1.
Mario Pasalic gave Atalanta a 27th-minute lead but PSG were rescued when Marquinhos came forward to scramble in a last-minute equaliser.
Kylian Mbappe set up fellow substitute Choupo-Moting to win the tie right at the end.
The French champions will play RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid next Tuesday for a place in the final.
“Nobody is going to take my mind off that I want to go to the final,” added 28-year-old Neymar as PSG made the last-four for the first time since 1995.
“We really have a great group, we’re a family, we know that with this state of mind it’s impossible. to put us out of competition.
“We knew that a ball could arrive, that even after the equaliser we could score a second goal.”
Neymar hailed Atalanta, the team which captured the imagination of neutrals, reaching this stage despite their city of Bergamo being one of the worst hit by the coronavirus.
“Atalanta are a great team, they played very well, they are the surprise of the competition. They were very aggressive, we knew they were going to press us,” said Neymar.
“Now we’re going to have to rest, it was a tough game mentally.
A Brazilian gay rights activist has filed a criminal complaint against Neymar for homophobia, after the football superstar called his mother’s boyfriend an anti-gay slur in comments leaked to the media.
The Sao Paulo prosecutor’s office confirmed to AFP it had received the complaint, which it must now examine to decide whether to open a case against the Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil star.
Neymar’s communications team declined to comment on the complaint.
The case was brought by activist Agripino Magalhaes, who said on Instagram he planned to press charges against Neymar and his friends for “criminal homophobia, hate speech and death threats” over comments made in a private conversation on a gaming site.
In the audio recording, Neymar, 28, can be heard using slurs against his mother’s new boyfriend, Tiago Ramos, as he and his friends discuss a supposed fight between the couple.
Ramos, 22, and Neymar’s mother, Nadine Goncalves, 52, announced in April they were dating.
Brazil’s tabloid press was soon running lurid stories about Ramos, a model who is openly bisexual.
Neymar and his friends were discussing rumors that the new couple had had a violent fight, after Ramos was hospitalized last Tuesday with arm wounds sustained at Goncalves’s house, according to police.
Neymar said his mother had lied to her family, indicating he did not believe her story that Ramos had tripped on the stairs and cut himself on a pane of glass.
One of his friends can be heard saying that they should assault Ramos with a broomstick in the anus.
Neighbors reportedly said they heard screaming from a fight at Goncalves’s house the night Ramos was injured.
However, Neymar’s communications team said Ramos and Goncalves had testified before police that the incident was a “domestic accident.”
Neymar “will always be welcome” back at Barcelona, the Spanish giants’ striker Luis Suarez told Mundo Deportivo on Wednesday.
Neymar left Barca in a world record move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 but has been persistently linked to a possible return to the Camp Nou.
Suarez told the paper: “Everybody knows ‘Ney’, we all know the affection we have for him in the dressing room.
“His ability is indisputable and he still has so much to show. He will always be welcome in the changing room, we appreciate him a lot.”
Suarez, 33, recovering from right knee surgery, said it was “complicated” to talk about players joining Barca at this time of crisis with the coronavirus pandemic.
“But I can talk about players, and these are huge players,” he commented when asked by the paper to discuss the rumours linking the 28-year-old Neymar with a Barca return.
The Uruguayan also had warm words for Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, the 22-year-old Argentine whose name also been associated with a move to Catalonia.
“Lautaro is a player who is progressing in Italy, he is a flexible centre-forward, with spectacular moves and that shows what a great a striker he is.”
Questioned about how any eventual new signings would fit in Suarez said: “There will always be a healthy rivalry between us, and while we are all focused on the same objective, that is winning, any players who come in to help the team achieve its aims will always be welcome.”
He then turned to last week’s deal with the club to cut players’ wages by 70%, with Barca captain Lionel Messi accusing the club of undermining the squad during negotiations.
“There were some things that were said that were false, like that the players didn’t want to see their salaries reduced, that some were against it.
“That they (club management) were saying that without being part of the squad was annoying. It annoyed all the players.”
Suarez emphasised all the players were united from the start in wanting to help the club as much as possible.
“The deal was delayed because it’s not easy to revoke the salary of 22-23 players.
“It was worked out between the club and the players’ lawyers, but it wasn’t easy to do.”
Neymar has donated $1 million to fight the impact of the new coronavirus in his native Brazil, according to TV network SBT.
The Paris Saint-Germain star, the world’s third-highest-paid footballer, donated part of the money to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the rest to a charitable fund launched by his friend Luciano Huck, a Brazilian TV presenter, the report said.
The striker’s press office declined to comment, saying: “We never talk about donations or amounts.”
Neymar, 28, followed the example of PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, who last month made what was described as a major donation — amount undisclosed — to a French charity helping fight the impact of COVID-19.
Huck, who has been touted as a possible candidate in Brazil’s 2022 presidential election, launched his fund to help poor Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.
The donations come as high-paid footballers face pressure to forego some of their salaries amid the crisis, which has ground the sporting world to a halt and left some clubs struggling to pay their staff.
Neymar is riding out the pandemic at his luxury villa in Mangaratiba, a resort town outside Rio.
He faced criticism last week after he was photographed relaxing with a group of friends on a beach volleyball court, even as half the world’s population — including most of Brazil — is in confinement to slow the virus’ spread.
His press team said he was receiving no visitors and was in quarantine at a “completely isolated” residence with people who made the trip from France with him.